Thursday, August 3, 2017

Male-Bashing is Everywhere

From Christina Rossetti in Context by Anthony H. Harrison, the Harvester Press, 1988:

Goblin Market and The Prince's Progress, moreoever, constitute formal and thematic assults upon the androcentric tradition of the romantic lyric. Not only do these narrative poems eschew the lyric form in which love ideals are typically presented by male speakers who aspire to fulfillment through union with their beloveds, but they also expose the corrupt (commercial and hypocritically materialist or socially prescribed) foundations upon which such false ideals are erected. Further, they palpably demonstrate the ways in which women are perceived as objects or mere ciphers by the patriarchal ideologies of romantic love that pretend to idolize women and desire union with them. These poems are, therefore, powerful social critiques of a system of romantic values that began in medieval France and had reached its institutional apogee in Victorian England with its apotheosis of middle-class women as Angels in the House. 

How often do we encounter a passage like this in an academic work? The relentless bashing of men has been going on for decades in universities, but more recently it has filtered out to advertising, entertainment, and any number of other fields. Men are portrayed as bumbling idiots in comedy after comedy, ad after ad. Trailers for action movies delight in depicting some action woman beating the living daylights out of various hapless men-- and this is presented as rather amusing.

I'm sick of it. I think a lot of people are getting sick of it. I'm tired of the expectation that men have to be constantly running their own sex down. I'm tired of the expectation that men always have to be making fun of themselves. Some people might think I've been too soft on the Alt Right in this blog, but this is one of the many areas where I think they are absolutely right. The man-bashing needs to be called out. 

7 comments:

  1. Séamus (Australia)August 3, 2017 at 4:21 PM

    Aside from the male-bashing (and you're right as usual) I find it hard to believe that these literary critics really know the minds of nineteenth century writers as well as they think. The amount of psychoanalysis they find in the likes of the Brontës, who were no fools despite their isolation-yes-but I'm quite certain they weren't interested in psycho-anything. A young author named Craig Silvey mentioned a few years ago how astounded he was with the hidden meanings people were reading into his first book, which weren't there at all

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    2. Thanks, Séamus. I do agree with you but I think it's a fine line because literary criticism is always speculative. Not just literary criticism; anyone who's ever become really interested in any movie, book, song or painting tends to speculate about what the author might have meant by this or that. The truth is that sometimes authors didn't even mean things that EVERYBODY assumed them to mean. So I think there's a valid field for speculation, and some of the theories can be fun. Obviously, you can take it too far.

      In this context of the post, I wasn't so much complaining about the author assuming Christina Rossetti meant this, as assuming that we agree with his claim that romantic conventions are patriarchal, sexist, insincere etc.

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  2. But there is a connection between the two points, I'm sure?? Going back to GAME OF THRONES,I read that it's popularity is largely due to the feminist slant-it abounds with strong female warrior characters who, I assume , slaughter men in abundance.

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    1. I'm glad to hear they are fighting against patriarchal oppression!

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  3. I've read that poem to so many people... One claimed he hadn't heard of GOTs. I don't know, though...
    Do they have EMILY'S LIST in Ireland? (It's a US founded group that funds electoral campaigns of WOMEN ONLY, but they must agree with all forms of birth control to get the grant, and probably agree with a lot of other strange things also.) It's used here mostly by the Australian Labor party (like the American Democrats they were once the preferred party for Catholics for many years.) A few Labour women decline involvement.

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    1. That man should be given a medal! Seriously, I'm sure it's a very good show. Probably I'll end up a passionate convert one day.

      Thank God I have never heard of Emily's List. I don't think we have it here.

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